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Archive for May, 2011

Don’t Get Drunk Friday: Julie’s Story

Hi Everyone, I just celebrated two years of you know what. I will post about that on the front page of the blog soon but here is yet another excellent story about letting go of alcohol. Remember, there is help out there and even right here.

 

I loved drinking. I loved opening a bottle of chardonnay and looking forward to it taking the edge off. It never really worked (the edge was always there) but eventually the self-loathing became too much and I had to admit my life was out of control.

I’ve read/heard so many people say things such as – I never had a DUI, I never lost my job, it never destroyed my family – and I would be right there with them. But I should have a DUI, I should have lost my job, and it didn’t destroy my family because my family all had their own addiction issues and I had yet to begin my own family.

I always drank to get drunk. Early in my drinking, I could limit myself but eventually all my promises of only one or two glasses of wine became one bottle down and looking for more. I kept it somewhat in check until my mid-thirties. I then started drinking daily because I was bored, working freelance from home, and living in a city where I hardly knew anyone and was so isolated. I was in a relationship that to this day I remain ambivalent about. I kept making dates for when I would quit and as always I would drink the day and night away. Eventually, I quit freelancing and became employed in my field, but I was still able to work from home. However, I began to make mistakes in my job; I became unreliable and flakey. I used to be a solid person but I was no longer dependable. I would watch people managing their lives and wonder – how in the world do they do that? I was falling apart.

By now I was in my early forties and had to get serious about building my own family. At the same time, my dear, sweet, kind mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I spent a year travelling back and forth (we were in different states) to see her. In that year, I probably flew home at least 15-20 times. I am forever grateful that my employer allowed me that flexibility.

My mom died a year after her diagnosis. If there is one thing in my life that I wish I could change, it would be that I was not drinking during that year. I was physically present for my mom but now that I’m no longer drinking, I am so sad that I used alcohol to numb myself and not be fully present for her.

Yet I still kept drinking after her death. I cannot begin to describe how much I hated myself. I would get on an anti-depressant to see if that would help, but obviously I still drank. I took xanax to help me deal with my anxiety during the day and ambien to help me sleep at night. And I was drinking the entire time. I was so incredibly miserable and really, truly believed that I was a failure with my life.

I used to smoke cigarettes and one day I quit cold turkey – after smoking for 16 years or so. I woke up that day, hungover, and didn’t want to smoke. I didn’t the next day, or the next, and realized I needed to take advantage of that. I kept praying the same thing would happen with my drinking. I kept setting dates (yet again) and finally one day held. August 15, 2009. The Assumption of Mary in the Roman Catholic faith (which I was raised in). I thought it would be a date I could remember.

It was not easy and I was so unprepared for a life without drinking. I read blogs by others who didn’t drink, I read books about it, and I just held on by my fingernails. Before the holidays that year, I began to attend AA meetings. They helped me tremendously and I continue to go when I feel the need. I know I will never drink again, but I do not take it for granted.

I have slowly learned to live without drinking. I am the dependable employee and friend that I wasn’t for so many years. I am also financially responsible. I like myself again. I have my struggles, but I am finally becoming the person I so hoped I would be.

The most wonderful part of my story is the growth of my little family. I quit drinking at 43 and right before my 44th birthday I began adoption proceedings. Everything fell into place so beautifully and easily and I like to think my mother had a hand in it. My mother died in February of 2008 and my daughter was born in October of 2008. I so hope they spent some time together and I can’t help but believe that my precious mother guided this beautiful angel into my life.

My daughter is from Ethiopia. The part that amazes me the most is that I quit drinking on August 15, 2009 and I returned home with my daughter on August 15, 2010. The date of my quitting (the Assumption of Mary – mother of Jesus), the loss of my own mother, my becoming a mother, and this beautiful little girl in my life; it really gives me the shivers. I am so humbled and grateful for everything in my life. While drinking, I couldn’t imagine a life without drinking and thankfully I can’t imagine a life now with drinking.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on May 27, 2011 2:25 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday3 comments  

Don’t Get Drunk Last Friday: Anonymous

I wasn’t always a drunk. In fact, growing up I rarely had a drink. But I never felt like I fit in. I was always a bit shy and felt different than everyone else. I wanted to fit in and be cool more than anything, but didn’t have a clue how to do so. So I sat and watched my youth go by from the bleachers. I got passed up for dates and never was invited to the parties the cool kids threw. I never got asked to school dances and since I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun, I had to ask boys myself, which was beyond awkward. And even though I seemed to make friends easily, I never really had any that were at a best friend level. By the time college rolled around, I had a few relationships and was still that shy, awkward girl.

I opted to move 3 hours away for school without knowing a soul. The move proved to be a good one and I fell into a good crowd straight away. I got out of my shell, went dancing, stayed up late and began to discover the delirious effects that alcohol had on me. But I still had things under control, or so I thought. As I think back, I now remember times when I blacked out and had to have friends tell me just what had happened. The first time I blacked out was at a party my roommates and I had. There must have been 100 people at our house. At this point I had become quite the flirt and was not shy once I had a few drinks in me. The morning after our party I was telling my roommies about what I thought were crazy dreams, but before I was done talking, I noticed them snickering. They came clean and confirmed my worst fear that my unsavory behavior was in fact reality and not a dream. I was highly embarrassed but never let on. I continued to go out and have a good time, but never missed a class or had an awful hangover. The university I attended had a bar on campus, which made for easy consumption between classes. I even remember having a beer or two before finals. Who does that?! Me, that’s who.

I finally graduated and moved, yet again. This time it was to Sacramento where my drinking went full steam ahead. I had somehow decided I needed to drink like a fish to survive. I was thrust into a world that still had 3 martini lunches and scotch in the office at the end of the day. I just wanted to be liked and accepted by my colleagues no matter the cost. At first it was fun and I didn’t see the real problem. I saw colleagues come back to the office after a long lunch totally hammered and I figured since I didn’t do that, I was fine. I didn’t drink until after work. But that soon changed when I changed jobs.

I evolved into drinking at the bar downstairs at lunch and then after work with my colleagues. Then it turned into slipping downstairs for a coffee with a shot of whisky mid afternoon. Then when my favorite wine, a nicely chilled Rombauer Chardonnay, went from being available by the glass to only by the bottle, I ordered up the bottle. For lunch. Daily. What I didn’t drink at lunch, I brought back to my desk in a to-go cup. Yep. I drank at my desk. Daily. On a particularly bad day, I blacked out, and my colleague had to totally cover for me, but that didn’t last long as I ended up passing out on my bosses couch. In his office. In the middle of the afternoon. With him working at his desk. But that didn’t stop my drinking, nor did it slow it down. Not even the come-to-Jesus talk I had with my boss the next day did nothing to thwart my incessant need to drink. I just wanted to belong. I just wanted to be liked. I just wanted to fit in. My boyfriend had since become my husband and was in grad school while I worked, so while I was drinking, he was staying as far away from me as he could at school. Our home life became strained but I didn’t see it. I stayed out late into the night and he studied all the time. We became distant and more like roommates than a married couple. I stayed out later and did more things to embarrass myself. I drove drunk. A lot. I came to from blackouts on 1-5 or in my house. I had a few minor car accidents and crashed my car into a parking structure pole. The pole won. But that still didn’t thwart my drinking. But something had to change.

So once again, we moved. This time to the wine country. How apropos. I changed industries, thinking the change would do me good. But I continued drinking. My final drink was after a long day at work followed by an event in San Francisco at which I drank pretty much the entire time. After returning to town by way of party bus, I evidently decided it was a good idea to hit up the local bars. I was also kicked out of said bars. A girlfriend drove me home, but only after I argued that she could follow me. Thankfully, I lost that argument. I was later told it took me a good 10 minutes to get into my house and stumble into bed. I also apparently had another come-to-Jesus talk with my husband, which I also don’t remember. He had given me an ultimatum of either AA or a divorce. I chose AA.

I went unwillingly, but now by the grace of God have close to 6 years sober. I also have an almost 3 year old daughter and cannot imagine what my life would be like if I was still drinking. Just knowing what a mess I was while I was single and drinking is enough to terrify me. I could never be a good mother while drinking any amount of alcohol. I cannot have just one. And my daughter is my world. I will not knowingly do anything to every put her in harms way. So, for me, that means to never, ever have a drop of alcohol again.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on May 16, 2011 7:20 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday5 comments  


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